National Fisherman

Working the web

Technology churns Gulf Coast waters as Louisiana fishermen use social networking to sell their catch

By John DeSantis

Tiny shrimp on the small aluminum skiff's deck glimmered in the Louisiana sun as Mitzi Bourg aimed her iPhone 4 at the pile and snapped a photo.

Within minutes the image appeared on her Facebook page.

Hours after she returned with her family the shrimp were gone, sold to a man who saw the post and acted quickly.

At $1.25 per pound, the price was a good 20 cents higher than what a dock might have paid. For a short trip like that one, the difference equaled about $50. But for the trips Bourg's dad takes with his double-rigged trawler, using the same social networking tools can mean a difference of hundreds, sometimes even a thousand dollars.

Fishermen like Bourg are acting independently or as participants in programs that link consumers, fishermen and docks through social networking tools. The practice is becoming more common on Louisiana's coast. Even when direct marketing is not the best bet — when processors are paying top dollar for seafood — social network strategies offer fishermen a new array of options to help them land the best deal at the docks.

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